Project Safe Neighborhoods Missoula County one-year results show violent crime down
MISSOULA—In the 12 months that Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal initiative, has been at work in Missoula County, violent crime has fallen significantly as law enforcement has dismantled drug trafficking rings, seized methamphetamine and firearms, and prosecuted nearly 70 federal and state offenders, top federal, state and local prosecutors announced today.
Since PSN launched in May 2018, murder, robberies and aggravated assaults in Missoula County, as reported by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and Missoula Police Department, decreased by 18.1 percent. At least 60 fewer people were the victim of violent crimes than in the previous 12 months.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme, Montana Department of Justice’s Communications Director John Barnes and Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst discussed the PSN results during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Missoula.
PSN is a reinvigorated U.S. Department of Justice initiative that targets the most violent criminals in high-crime areas and works with federal, state and local law enforcement and community partners to reduce crime. PSN Missoula County has focused on arresting and prosecuting armed robbers, meth traffickers and felons with firearms.
“PSN in Missoula County is paying off. Violent crime has dropped sharply.” Attorney Alme said. “The numbers show that the hard work by all of our federal, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and probation and parole officers is making a real difference in the community. To further drive down the violent crime rate, we need to continue getting the most dangerous offenders off the street and we need to reduce the demand for meth,” he said.
“Federal, state, and local cooperation through Project Safe Neighborhoods has reduced Missoula’s violent crime rate,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said, in a statement from Helena. “Through targeted enforcement we have saved lives, taken significant quantities of meth off of the streets, seized deadly weapons from criminals, and brought many of the worst offenders to justice. I am grateful to all of the law enforcement agencies and personnel participating in these efforts and I look forward to continuing this collaborative work in the future.”
Before PSN, the City of Missoula’s violent crime rate had increased 49 percent from 2011 to 2017. Methamphetamine was identified as a primary cause of the increase in violent crime.
In the 12 months PSN has been in effect, Missoula’s murders, robberies and aggravated assaults have fallen 18.1 percent to 271 crimes, continuing a decline of 4.9 percent, or 331 crimes, reported for the prior 12 months. Until then, violent crime had been generally increasing.
Since May 1, 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s office has charged 43 defendants with federal meth trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offenses.
In addition, 20.5 pounds of meth, representing 74,292 doses and having an estimated $656,000 street value, have been seized in the federal cases. Law enforcement officers also have seized 44 firearms, including three semi-automatic assault-style rifles. The U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offender Task force has served 330 federal and state warrants on violent offenders in Missoula County.
Since last May, Missoula County has charged 26 persons with state meth or heroin possession, assault with a weapon, burglary, deliberate homicide and strangulation crimes.
“PSN’s greatest accomplishment is that it has bridged a historical gap, bringing all of the key players to the same table to work together, sharing information with the goals of identifying Missoula’s most dangerous offenders, focusing our resources on those who present the greatest risk and eliminating red tape and duplicative efforts,” said County Attorney Pabst. “The Missoula County Attorney’s Office is pleased to be part of this effort to make our neighborhoods safer,” Pabst said.
In addition to continuing its enforcement strategy to further cut the violent crime rate, PSN will work to reduce the demand for meth. In Yellowstone County, where PSN also has been in initiated, a coalition of nonprofit and government organizations, called Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect, is developing a community plan to reduce the demand for meth through prevention and treatment. Once completed later this year, the plan will be available for other Montana communities, like Missoula, to use and tailor for their needs.
PSN Missoula County’s partners include the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Missoula County Attorney’s Office; Montana Department of Justice’s Prosecution Services Division, Highway Patrol and the Division of Criminal Investigation; the Montana Department of Correction’s Adult Probation and Parole Division; the Missoula Police Department; the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office; Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.